When bombs, grenades, missiles, and cluster munitions are dropped, launched, or thrown during conflict they typically create widespread devastation, as intended. However, the mere release of such weapons does not guarantee detonation, which means they will remain dangerously active wherever they land until disabled or detonated.
These explosive devices or munitions are known as unexploded ordnance (UXO) and it’s estimated that anywhere between two and 20 percent of UXO fail to explode during their initial use. This side effect of war and conflict creates at-risk communities with residents who live in fear of unseen dangerous ordnance. But there’s more than just the obvious threats of UXO to consider.
The visible and invisible threat of UXO
Landmines are concealed just below the surface of the ground or road and, because of their hidden nature, are generally perceived as the greatest threat to areas affected by conflict. However, UXO can pose an equally immediate threat, whether partially obscured, fully camouflaged, or out in the open.
The citizens of conflict-affected areas have repeatedly and unintentionally detonated unseen UXO by walking, driving, or plowing. While it would seem that the visible UXO are the least worrisome remainder munitions, they can create an equally serious threat. Some people are tempted to manipulate unexploded ordnance to glean the scrap metal that comprise the weapons – for these struggling regions and individuals, this metal can bring a high price and much-needed income.
Sadly, the children of post-conflict territories are often the ones who unwittingly detonate UXO. With their curiosity peaked, children may approach these potential playthings and handle them without a second thought. Unintentional and intentional contact with dangerous ordnance can both result in devastation.
Beyond the obvious dangers of UXO
The physical trauma of a detonated UXO is tragic, but the ultimate reach of unexploded ordnance is immense. Nations, communities, and people in post-conflict territories live in daily fear of UXO which stunts their ability to proceed with their lives as usual.
UXO limits long-term development, ultimately leading to poverty, particularly among rural populations. The presence and threat of such ordnance hinder an area’s ability to conduct trade, acquire healthcare or education, and especially tampers with the ability to cultivate land and find clean water.
Think of the security you have when it comes to food, work, simply walking around your neighborhood without worrying about each step you take. Support MAG’s demining efforts or donate to MAG – join the cause, save lives, build futures.